Money, whether your primary motivation or just a nice-to-have, is something you think about every day as a business owner—from the second you apply for a loan to your first sale to your 10,000th. It writes the rules: if the numbers don’t make sense, neither will your business. Even if you’re not really in it to get rich quick.
This month, stargazers, we’re shining a bright light on the oft-taboo topic of money. How do you access it to get started? How do you make it work for your business? What’s the best way to track, save, and invest? And, based on your Founder Sign, how does your own relationship with money impact your entrepreneurial journey? (Don’t know your Sign? Start with our quiz. Don’t be long, though—time is money, folks.)
💰 Even if the mere sight of equations makes you squirm, we have simple insights to help make money less scary.
Time and time again, business owners tell us that money—specifically managing cash flow and getting funded—is one of their top challenges when starting and running a business. We’re here to vanquish some of those worries. Even if the mere sight of equations makes you squirm, we have simple insights to help make money less scary.
Our tailored recommendations, picked just for your type, include case studies and guides to set you up for financial success.
👟 Jump to your sign:
Feature Sign: The Outsider
The Outsider and money
Money on your mind? Not really. You’re not in this entrepreneurial game to get rich, Outsider. But money still drives what you do, because financial stability is your goal. Only 4% of you indicated that you identify as a spender, and only 2% identify as a risky investor, according to our recent survey. You work hard to keep the income flowing and invest it in responsible ways.
Because you’re worried about money, you’re also paying attention. You are generally the type to be distrustful of outside intervention, preferring to work solo, which means you’re frequently the one handing all of the business finances. You aren’t sentimental about your business—you’ll only grow or expand if it makes sense on paper, not because you’re in love with an idea. 48% of you self-fund and reinvest back into the business.
💡 Tip for financial success: If you’re going to do it yourself, purchase the right accounting software to help you manage and view your business finances efficiently.
You don’t approach risk lightly, Outsider, which is a trait that can safeguard your business from flopping. On the other hand, aversion to risk can limit your ability to grow. Your business may be steady now but, as we’ve learned from the global pandemic, everything can change in an instant. Invest in keeping up with a changing world and trends that can impact buyer behavior. Upgrade and evolve—even if it means taking on a little outside investment.
📚 Essential reading: Investing in Your Business: What You Need to Know Before You Get Started
💰 Money case study: Building An African Hair Braiding Business from Scratch
The Mountaineer and money
While money isn’t a central motivator for you, Mountaineer, it goes hand in hand with growth—and that’s something you care about deeply. You are driven to chase big dreams and the financial benefits are evidence of just how much you’ve achieved. Status is also important to you, though. You revel in sharing your wins with others and being admired in your circles.
You’re good at the long game, Mountaineer, setting your sights on big goals and then conquering them. Your ambition seems to, almost magically, turn ideas into money. A dreamer though you may be, you make business decisions with an eye for maximum growth potential.
💡 Tip for financial success: Bootstrapping is great for growing a new business with less risk, but risk never bothered you much, Mountaineer. At pivotal growth moments, find out if it’s a good idea to pursue outside capital.
Big goals may be your strength, but with your head in the clouds, you may not be paying attention to the day-to-day or week-to-week health of your business financials. You know how to be profitable, but what about cash flow? In a recent survey, 59% of you responded that you find cash flow very or extremely challenging.
Your business can be profitable on paper, but if what’s coming into the business on a regular basis (whether daily or weekly) isn’t greater than what’s going out, you may be in trouble. Of all the signs, Mountaineers are most likely to identify as spenders. Your income statement (or profit and loss) tells a high-level story of the business finances in the long run, but doesn’t paint a complete picture. Shopify’s cash flow tools can help with that.
📚 Essential reading: Cash Flow Management for Business Owners [+ Free Template]. In this guide, our free template will help you easily track the in-and-out flow of money while you shoot for the stars.
💰 Money case study: When the Self-Made Founder of Yegi Beauty Risked Everything.
The Trailblazer and money
You’re not overly fussed with making a lot of money, Trailblazer—you simply want to make a living doing what you love. That’s your definition of success. Usually, though, your passion, creativity, and drive contribute to your natural entrepreneurial ability to build a profitable business. You crave independence and freedom from obligations outside your passion—and money can help you achieve that.
Your innovative and creative strengths help you not only in the more obvious areas of the business—product development, marketing, branding—but also when it comes to your finances. You’re able to make dollars stretch because you’re good at identifying ways to save a buck or DIY your way around potentially expensive problems. With your well-rounded skill set, Trailblazer, you can save money on professional services by doing your own bookkeeping, design, or customer service.
💡 Tip for financial success: To make the most of DIYing your taxes, find out what tax deductions you can make for your small business. If you run your business from home, for example, you can likely write off a portion of your living costs.
Flower child, money can often be an afterthought for you. Sometimes you’re just too in love with an idea to see that on paper, the numbers don’t add up. If you’re going to succeed at building your dream career, though, you’ll have to redirect a little of that passion toward your books. You’ll easily win over investors with your excitement for your idea, but ultimately you’re a risky investment if you can’t show how you plan to turn a profit. That may be why 47% of Trailblazers reported in our recent survey that their businesses are self-funded.
Do the work up front to prove that your idea is more than a pipe dream—it will save you from potential future heartbreak. And be sure to do at least some of your bookkeeping rather than outsourcing all of it (at least at first) to keep you continually connected to the numbers.
📚 Essential reading: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Small Business Finance. This is a great place to start if you want to get a handle on your finances from the get-go. Educate yourself, Trailblazer—your love-over-money approach will only get you so far.
💰 Money case study: How Native Poppy Bloomed—Even Through Its Darkest Days
The Cartographer and money
While money isn’t what compels you, Cartographer, let’s be honest—it’s something you think about a lot. You tend to be a bit of a worrier and combat those feelings with careful planning and keeping an eye on the numbers at all times. As someone who avoids risk, financial security is important to you. In fact, 30% of Cartographers reported that planning for retirement was the central motivation for starting a business—more than any other sign.
You “get” numbers, Cartographer. Even if math isn’t your strength, you’ve made it your business. You started your company out of a passion for what you do but only because it also made sense on paper. Your attention to detail means you understand cash flow and its importance—something that many other signs find challenging. Because of this, your business will more likely have consistent financial health over the ups and downs experienced more frequently by other business owners.
💡 Tip for financial success: If you’ve yet to start a business, it may be because you’re still in the planning stages (your favorite part). At this stage, be sure to do a break-even analysis on your idea. The exercise will help you determine when your business will become profitable—we know you don’t love surprises!
While you know how to grow slowly over time, you may be missing opportunities for growth spurts because you’re too averse to risk. Cartographers are less likely to seek outside funding, citing the stress and interest costs of large loans as detractors. In fact, 55% of you reported that you are self-funded.
While we advocate for those who can self-fund and bootstrap, at certain points in your journey, you may need to seek funding so you don’t stagnate. Fear not, Cartographer. There are responsible borrowing opportunities, like Shopify Capital, that allow you to qualify based on your store’s merit and repay as a percentage of your sales.
📚 Essential reading: How to Get a Small Business Loan (+ What to Know)
💰 Money case study: When a Tarot Designer Lost Her Safety Net
The Firestarter and money
OK, Firestarter, you’re not afraid to admit it: money drives you. But it actually comes second to ideas. That’s because you’re willing to take risks with money to pursue exciting ideas—ideas that may or may not pay off in the end. But your instincts are generally pretty keen, and though you take risks, you’re doing so because your gut says it’s worth it. Sure, you’re definitely bound to be wrong once in a while. But hey, it’s a drop in the bucket for a serial entrepreneur like you.
💡 Tip for financial success: When you’re jumping from one big idea to another, ask yourself if selling your business is the best move for you. Will selling it open up more capital and time to pursue new ideas?
Among the most financially literate of the signs, you’re not prone to let your money sit around idly. Rather than squirrel it away in safe retirement savings plans, you’re constantly looking for ways to make it work harder through smart investments. On the flip side, you’re also adept at raising funds. You’re more likely to crowdfund than any other sign, according to our recent survey of the Founder’s Zodiac community. You know how to sell an idea—and you have the numbers and experience to give investors confidence in your ability to succeed.
It’s hard for us to criticize your process, Firestarter—your bold financial moves aren’t for the faint of heart but they tend to work for you. What we will say is that it doesn’t hurt to have a safety net. You’re great at making your ideas profitable, but pay attention to cash flow. A little reserve will help with unexpected day-to-day costs that may crop up.
📚 Essential reading: Crowdfunding: How to Raise Money & Launch a Campaign
💰 Money case study: How the Founder of Blenders Eyewear Started from a Backpack
If you’ve yet to determine your Founder Sign, take our quiz, then sign up for our newsletter. The Founder’s Zodiac runs every month and offers up advice and relevant content curated just for your type.
Illustrations by Alice Mollon
This article originally appeared in the Shopify blog and has been published here with permission.